Refashion · sewing · Upcycling

Refashioning a Classic.

When you want to be on trend, wear quality clothing and stick to a budget – get out the sewing machine and turn to a bit of DIY.

I found this fab men’s shirt in my local Sue Ryder charity shop, the cost was £4. It took me a number of visits to find the right thing, I was looking for a shallow yoke on the back as I knew I wanted to turn the shirt round and no pocket on the front as I didn’t want to unpick and be left with stitch marks

I drew a couple of rough sketches of what I planned to do with the shirt. I knew that I want to straighten the bottom, cut off the collar and cut the sleeves to about 3/4 so I could turn them up.

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I started by cutting a small neckline around the collar section and pinned  the button stand closed so it didn’t move when I cut across the thickest part. Remember when you have drawn on your collar line to add seam allowance, I added 1.5cm to create a small rolled seam and hide the raw edge.

I cut the sleeves slightly longer then I wanted so I could have the turn up and put 4 cm on for a 2cm hem with turn under. I cut the hem straight across but I wanted to keep the detail used to strengthen the shirt at the top of the curve.  One of the key factors was turning the buttons to the back, which fully changed the look of the shirt into a top.

As part of the refashion I felt that I didn’t want to hide the history of the shirt and decided to unpick the labels from the inside and put them on the outside.

I took it to one of my workshop classes and because of the quality of the fabric no one could quite believe the changes, even though actually they are quite small.

Most people thought that I had bought the top in its current form, before I showed them the photos and they all felt with a bit of practise and a few tips on how to draw a good curve they would be happy to have a go themselves.

I have kept the collar and cuffs and stashed them away, maybe to add a fake shirt look to a thin sweater for winter!

Hand Sewing · Refashion · sewing · Upcycling · Workshops

Sharing timeless skills

This blog post is a really exciting post for me, I have spent the past several months running workshops sharing my skills with both adults and children.

I have been highly motivated to share my knowledge with other people for two reasons, the first is that I was passed a lot of skills down from my mum and her relatives and I want to share them, the second is that I really enjoy how satisfied both adults and children are when they feel they have achieved something in a fun and relaxed way.

Here are some pics of what I have recently been teaching people.

My local scrapstore has a huge box of scrap leather so I have delved into it for some great colours to teach people how to make keyrings, we also used fake leather and other fabrics, seen here on the top left. This lovely pic was taken by Meg from the Create cafe mentioned below.

On the right I spent an afternoon with some ladies at a great community cafe called Create on the Square, where we made denim bags from upcycled jeans, everyone’s zip sewing skills were great as a few of them had not done zip inserting before.

Lastly, on the left is a pic of a workshop at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, we were in the family tent teaching kids how to make musical instruments from scrap materials such as paper cups and plates, plastic lids and other bits, this one was great fun and we had over 100 people in two hours! Play is so important for children, they were all really happy, relaxed and could make a mess with no one worrying about the carpet.

Coming up I am going to be doing another key ring tassel workshop, alongside friendship bracelets, fabric brooches, a fun pom pom session and felt pencil cases towards the end of summer with a back to school theme.

 

Refashion · sewing

A Stitch in Time

I had all but given up blogging for a while as the dull short days and artificial light make awful conditions for photographing projects. So here is a little round up of what I have been making recently;

This was my favourite make, I saw the fabric in  Hobbycraft and decided straight away I would turn it into a shirt. Buying new fabric unless it is to improve a refashion,  is not something I do often but it is a special print and I already have ideas for the left over scraps!

I had drafted the pattern previously and used it to make a printed corduroy shirt. I am in love with the cowboy style yoke on shirts and I have a few with this design feature.

image The Infinity Scarf

I love a good scarf and wear ones of varying weights all year round.

This one was made from remnants I had left over after making a lining for a sleeveless wrap jacket, featured in this post

I really enjoyed the simplicity of the make and it’s pretty cosy as well!

 

I have had a great year, tutoring workshops with a local social enterprise company that run projects to encourage more arts and crafts for children and adults using materials from our local scrap store.

This year I plan to expand my involvement in helping people to learn new craft skills and realise how fulfilling creating something yourself is.

Hand Sewing · Upcycling

Stick or Twist – Laptop Cover Adaption

I have been eyeing up this little project in Do Crafts magazine for a few months ( its issue number 70 if you’re interested) and this week I made one for myself.

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I have a few pieces of grey felt from a visit to my local scrapstore in my fabric hoard, so I decided not to stick to the original design and twist it by going for a school satchel look.

The laptop cover in the magazine is machine-made but as I have a penchant for hand sewing mine is all hand stitched.

I wanted to give the dark grey a bit of a lift and I decided to go for my current favourite symbol, the stag silhouette.

I stitched the whole thing together using extra strong thread in bright yellow, using double running stitch ( it looks the same both sides like a machine sewn line of straight stitching), then I used the same thread in a bright red to weave in and out of the yellow for added texture.

The fabric used for the stag silhouette is a scrap of upholstery material, as the fabric frays a bit I used some iron on interfacing to stabilise it. I appliqued the stag onto the cover with blanket stitch and then wove some grey and white twisted wool through the stitches.

The attachment I used to keep the cover closed is usually applied in leather work, it is a called a screwback stud.

 

 

Hand Sewing · Upcycling

Circular Motions – Wreath Making

wp_20161014_16_02_24_proAs the seasons turn, I have to admit that my favourite seasons are Autumn and Winter. The colours, the scents, the change in food and I am a big fan of keeping alive family traditions.

I brought this little Angel quite a while ago and she stays up all year round, in December she is a Christmas decoration and the rest of the time she is a folk decoration!

Last year  I put up a wreath made of dried fruit slices, once the slices had gone past their best I decided to keep the wreath frame to see if I could put it to good use and this is what I came up with……

Materials Required

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2 Sheets of felt in your main colour

1 Sheet of felt in a contrasting colour

Wreath Frame and hanging loop.

Cardboard Leaf Template in 3 sizes/styles

Fabric Pen/Tailors chalk

Scissors and Pva/Fabric Glue

Needle and Contrasting Thread/Decorative button

I am not too specific with the fabrics and what colours you should use, because I think that hand made items should be unique and this wreath could be Autumnal, Spring like or just matching the decor of your room.

First thing, draw your leaf templates (I used the back of an old cereal packet to make mine) and cut them out.  The largest size leaf to cover the wreath frame measured 6.5cm in length and 3.5cm at the widest part of the curve, the smaller one is 4.5cm by 2.3cm and the long thin ones measured 6cm by 2cm.

Draw round your largest leaf template first, I cut out and used 25 large leaves. Next I cut out the tabs that will hold the leaves onto the wreath, the tabs measure approx 2.5cm in length by 1cm in width. As I used some left over bits of fabric between the leaf cut outs the tabs are not all exactly the same so don’t worry about making sure that they are ruler perfect.

After you have cut all of the large leaves, place the leaves under the wreath frame a few at a time. Place them with a slight overlap and lie them in slightly different ways. Get your glue and put a bit over the middle of the leaf, the same length and width as the tab. As I was using PVA I put some glue on both pieces and waited for it to go slightly tacky before gluing the pieces together. I also put a small dab of glue in between the overlap of the leaves to hold them in place.

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After you have finished gluing all the tabs on the leaves and everything is dry, this is what you will end up with. All the leaves need to overlap and no wire should be seen.

I let this layer of leaves dry overnight with a book on top as I was using PVA glue but it might not be necessary with fabric glue or a tackier glue.

 

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Next cut out your slightly smaller leaves, I used 11 of the small grey leaves. To give the leaves a bit of texture and contrast to the background, I embroidered them with Fern stitch.

The red thread that I used is Guttermans extra strong thread and I started sewing at the tip of the leaf and worked my way towards the base.

 

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Once the small leaves have been glued on, cut out and layer on your contrasting leaves. I decided at this point that I wanted a flower at the top.

I cut out two six petal flowers and layered them for a Poinsettia effect then stitched the button in the middle. You could use anything to decorate for a bit of sparkle or a different look.

Glue your last pieces on including the decoration and leave to dry before hanging.  Find a place for your wreath and enjoy!

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Hand Sewing · Upcycling · Workshops

Working it out!

After many months of over thinking about how I was going to start sewing classes, what I was going to teach, where I would hold them etc. I have finally taken the plunge and set up a small selection of workshops in the lovely Art Office in Cheltenham.

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If you are in Cheltenham  then come and look me up. There are 4 classes, all suitable for adult beginners, each class teaches a couple of stitch types and a short project that the stitches can be applied to.

The classes can be taken separately or as a group of 4. The aim is that I will release a block of classes for people to attend teaching various different ways of hand sewing.

Later I would like to move into applied textile classes such as felting, but still with the stitching element.

phototastic-03_10_2016_172ab086-8303-4440-bd29-15c9c097f3661Lots of people run classes on machine sewing which is great but hand sewing is a fantastic skill to have.

I use hand sewing a lot to take up hems, ( at least an inch off of all trouser as I am on the short side!) fix small areas of mending, also hand gathering as well as decorative purposes.

It’s a great way to relax, portable and keeps your brain ticking over!

You can check out the dates on my home page and click on the link to buy tickets on Eventbrite or contact me via my Facebook page for further details.

 

 

 

Hand Sewing · Refashion · Upcycling

Autumn Influences – DIY Upcycled Wine Bottle Gift Bag

WP_20160830_14_37_27_ProOne of the first jobs I did after becoming self-employed was taking up some curtains for a friend. He had just moved into a cottage with low ceilings and quite a lot had to come off as the hems would’ve been too heavy left uncut.

I was given the left over fabric and have had it for a little while. I decided instead of giving him a birthday present in a normal paper bag I would make him one out of the off cuts and he could either use it again or use it as a decorative cover for a bottle at home. (He loved it & the contents!)

I love the colours, there is something subtly Scottish about it, the purples and greens are shades of the moors. I had some small pieces of chocolate-brown silk lining which I used to give it a great luxury feel!

With September upon us I fancied making another one and pimping it up with a bit of applique and hand embroidery. I have just started using Fern stitch on the swirls and later I will fill in the gaps with various flower designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Sewing · Refashion · Upcycling

All made up and ready to go!

This week I have made myself a new make up bag that I will be taking on a little trip with me in September. Suitably for a re-made item I will be visiting The Festival of Thrift in Yorkshire.

I love the little change pockets in jeans and I wanted to use the pocket in situ, rather then removing it and putting it something else. So, I unpicked the waistband of the jeans in order to use the whole section easily.

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MATERIALS REQUIRED

An old pair of Jeans

Lining Material to fit

Zip of suitable length

Extra Strong Thread, a Hand Needle

Pins, Scissors, an Unpicker

A Ruler and Fabric Pen

A Chopstick or suitable poker for the corners!

First, I unpicked the waistband off the top of the jeans – keep this it could make a great bag handle, a fabric bracelet etc. Open up the outside leg seam of the jeans, you could open up the inside as well but it depends on what you else you think you will be making as you might want the fabric width.

When cutting out, cut the front pocket side of the jeans as close as possible to the fly opening and measure up and cut yourself a rectangle, think about the width of the bag ( add on seam allowances, I used 1cm and 1.5cm on the zip) and the size of zip you want to use but you can shorten a longer zip if required. I used an 8″ Zip.

Cut a matching size rectangle for the back and 2 more the same out of your lining fabric. It doesn’t matter if you cut through the pocket bag when making your rectangle on the front piece as you will trap the open edge in the seam later on.

Position the zip between the Denim and lining pieces. Pin one side of the zip in between the topside of the front denim piece (with the pocket) and a piece of the lining with the right sides facing, the right sides should also be covering the zip. Repeat with the other two pieces. You can check that the pieces are correctly pinned before sewing as when you turn them over the zip will be in the middle as seen above.

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To insert the zip, open out the fabric as seen on the left and stitch along the seam allowance. Make sure that you are not too close to the teeth or the lining will become trapped when you open and close the zip.

Start with the zip closed and as you get closer to the end open the zip so that you can keep the line straight. Repeat on the other side of the zip.

The Zip can be inserted with machine stitching but I  hand stitched the whole thing as essentially I don’t thread up my sewing machine unless I have a good couple of metres of sewing to do or a large project – and I really enjoy hand stitching as I can do it outside in nice weather!

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Next, open up the bag pieces as shown with the denim on one side and the lining on the other.

Start with the denim piece, lightly pin together ensuring that the bottom edge of the open pocket bag is pinned and will be stitched into the seam if you had cut through it as mentioned earlier. Sew all the way round the denim piece

Next, pin the lining pieces together.This time sew down from the edges and leave a gap in the middle to turn the bag through later on.

As I didn’t overlock my edges I lightly trimmed my seams on both pieces with a pair of pinking shears to stop fraying. Then, I pressed the seams open.

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After that, turn the bag to the right side through the gap left in the lining. Use your chopstick to carefully poke the corners out.

Fold the raw edges of the lining to the wrong side, so they line up with the seam and stitch the opening shut. I used slip stitch for this.

I hand top stitched the lining and denim together  with running stitch, which traps the seam allowance inside and helps the zip to run smoothly without catching.

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I used a faded old cotton pillowcase to make my lining from, as the bag is quite small you might see this fabric again in another project!

The Zip I used was quite chunky so I inserted a tab at the point where I stitched the lining and outer sides together. I left a small gap at the end of the zip and poked the tab through so the loop was on the outside and the raw edges were trapped on the inside.

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READY TO GO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand Sewing · Upcycling

New Balls Please!

I had planned to put up a tutorial this week about a fabric cutlery holder I was making but I had one eye on Wimbledon and realised I was half way through before I had taken photos of the method used!

Well, I thought I would do a little post anyway and save the method for another time.

InstagramCapture_a8b0e7a2-f804-4445-9691-1da717930246After I made this bag for myself I had the pieces of fabric left over from the centre of the handles, they weren’t very wide but I like to keep a lot of even fairly small scraps as they can come in handy.

Also, I had been to a restaurant a while a go and kept the little paper holder for the knife and fork, thinking that I might find some use for it.

 

 

FB_20160708_17_10_30_Saved_PictureI came up with a little pattern to make my own version and I wanted the edge of the opening to be bound.  Even though I can sew pretty well, I really hate applying Bias binding so I decided to extend the edge of the lining and fold it down I did this first so the edges would be stitched underneath.

Also, I hand appliqued the small circles to the front before stitching all of the pieces together.

I used the bagging out method to stitch the pieces together, by trapping the front pocket pieces between the lining and the outer leaving a small unstitched gap to turn the whole piece through to the right side.

WP_20160706_21_03_20_ProI have made just the one here but if you are going to make e.g a set of two or more then run your sewing like a factory line, cut all the pieces out, stitch all the bindings down, sew the back and front halves together, sew round each holder, turn each one through, then stitch up the gap on each one.

 

Appropriately, I learned a lot about factory methods when I worked as a pattern cutting assistant for a small factory, which at the time made shorts for the Wimbledon ballboys/girls!

Excuse the different framing on the photos I had been messing around with a bit of editing on a phone app and realised that I had deleted my originals.

 

Festival Fashion · Hand Sewing · Upcycling

Thrifty Festival Accessories

For several years now festivals have become quite a big pull for people all over the world.  We probably have one of the most famous ones here in England, the Glastonbury Festival.

I went to Phototastic-24_06_2016_7ff305bb-792d-47cf-bcd4-0331b37769daHow The Light Gets In Festival in May, it was rain free! I went to Glastonbury last year for 5 days and got away with one heavy shower of rain! Pretty Lucky huh?

The popularity of festivals has kept an indie bohemian style to the forefront of summer fashion.

As I seem to have a box full of earthy colour scraps and beads, I thought I would put together a few funky tassels and accessories that are festival inspired.

There are loads of tutorials on Pinterest, so instead of putting together a tutorial I have put together a short list of the ones that inspired me.

http://missrenaissance.com/2013/04/01/6697/  – Tassel Inspiration

http://rachaelgreenland.co.uk/felt-balls-tutorial-update/ – A Felt Ball tutorial, its a great tutorial with really loud garden birds in the background!

http://howtodosomething.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/how-to-make-feather-earrings.html – These earrings inspired the feather necklace pendants.

I like picking up seashells that have become worn and almost skeletal, the shells have natural holes that make threading easy, like the one on the orange thread tassel.

Apart from the roving I bought to try out the felt balls, I didn’t particulary use any specialist tools. The keyring parts are from broken old ones, the beads from old necklaces, I used an awl to make the holes in the leather but they are easily available from DIY stores.

Have a go, if you haven’t got any leather you can get some great effects in other fabrics.